I’m writing this with my laptop perched on top of a Boppy pillow while my seven-week-old tries to put herself to sleep next to me.
I’m writing to the sound of white noise. I’m topless just in case she wakes up. My 19-month-old just drifted off in the next room.
My hands and my brain are entirely too full. I have a detailed mental list of every meal my family will eat for the next month, all vaccine due dates, and I wrote my small business payroll this afternoon while nursing and shushing my newborn in a ring sling. My dad tried to talk to me today about the Trump impeachment, and I actually didn’t know what he was talking about. So, my brain is also entirely too empty.
This may seem like a time to let my meditation practice sit on the back burner. Things are hard enough. But, really, there is no easier or better time to move it to the front.
My mother always starts the day asking how the baby slept. After a rough night this week, she said, “Well, she had a great day yesterday, so you’d take a good day over a good night.” Nope. I’ve learned through my short stint as a mom that nights are key. When I’m exhausted and depleted, it doesn’t matter if my kids are little balls of joy; I’ll never be a good mom. When I am rested and energized, I can handle anything they send my way.
If you’ve got a newborn at home, keep meditating. Heck, start meditating.
Use these simple methods to keep yourself grounded and ready for good days and bad:
1. Leave your phone out of reach while you pump. Pumping is a mindless activity that offers no joy. It can be the most dreaded part of your day. My little one sleeps long stretches at night, so I’m setting an alarm to get up and pump. Just when I thought I couldn’t loathe pumping anymore, here it is to steal the little sleep I’m offered. I used to bring my phone in and search Pinterest for healthy recipes in the excruciating minutes from midnight to 12:05 while the pump droned on. Now, I sit on my cushion on the floor of the bathroom and breathe to the sound of the machine. If you’re formula feeding, use the time you heat a bottle.
2. Pick “your song.” Just like your wedding song, pick a song that belongs to you and your baby. Sing it to them every day, and when you do, feel every word as it crosses your lips. Dig in to the visceral sensations. Smell the Dreft laundry detergent wafting off your baby, study the way a floorboard creaks while you dance across it, catch the light shining through your windows. Not only is this a simple meditation, but you will also cherish these memories someday.
3. Give yourself five good minutes. If your baby is waking at a predictable time each morning, set your alarm for 15-30 minutes before then. You won’t get much from those last 15 minutes of sleep. You will get a lot from five good minutes with yourself. I recommend lying in bed and practicing diaphragmatic breath. Not only does this induce rest and relaxation in your mind, it helps to restore your core and pelvic floor after having a baby.
You can make meditation part of your life with a newborn. It doesn’t have to be complicated. By planting these mental flags that remind you to stop and be present, you’ll notice there are opportunities in nearly every moment of parenthood to slow down and meditate.
You can’t control how your baby sleeps or whether your toddler is in a good mood. With meditation, you can take charge of a small part of your energy. That small part may be what makes the day easier.